Kevin Smith has created an interesting commentary on society, religion, and the youth of America all wrapped in to an independent thriller starring John Goodman, Melissa Leo, and Kevin Pollak. It's nice to see small films like this being created by big name Hollywood types and marketed unconventionally with an internet campaign and VOD availability, but the ultimate question is whether or not this film is worth watching under any format.
Red State, for the most part, was able to keep my attention although at times was fairly predictable and often bordered on being a little to over the top. Even with some glaring flaws, the film manages to tell a compelling story that strives to get you thinking about religious extremism and how authorities react and deal with potentially explosive situations.
The boys unsuccessfully attempt to escape their captors and find themselves in the middle of what turns out to be a standoff between the church goers and FBI agents who are hoping to contain this escalating crisis before it can become a major news story. John Goodman and Kevin Pollak play the lead agents reluctantly tasked with carrying out the mission.
Michael Parks, primarily known for brief yet well played roles in a few Quentin Tarantino movies, does a great job portraying the preacher who has his followers convinced they are walking a path of righteousness and are willing to do anything in the name of their cause.
If all this seems a little confusing and even convoluted at times...it is. The ending is especially unsatisfying given the build up to what could be a very intense and thought provoking conclusion. Instead we get a device that manages to bring everything to an anticlimactic close and left me thinking about what could have been instead of how it actually played out.